Bowl Championship Series FAQ

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Frequently asked questions about the BCS: What is the BCS, anyway?

The BCS is not an entity. Instead, it is an arrangement of five bowl games that are managed by the 11 Division I-A conferences and the University of Notre Dame together with the local bowl committees.

What is a BCS Conference?

The media and others often mis-use this term. All 11 conferences in the Football Bowl Subdivision are "BCS Conferences."

When was the Bowl Championship Series formed?

Prior to the 1998 football regular season, the FedEx Orange, Nokia Sugar, Rose and Tostitos Fiesta Bowls joined with the Atlantic Coast, Big East, Big 12, Big Ten, Pacific-10 and Southeastern Conferences and the University of Notre Dame to form the Bowl Championship Series (BCS). In 2004, Conference USA, Sun Belt, Mid-American, Mountain West and Western Athletic conferences joined the BCS.

What is the BCS' current contract arrangement?

The BCS operates with several contracts in play:
1. The BCS agreement with 11 conferences, Notre Dame and three bowl games,
2. A contract between the Big Ten, Pac-10, the Rose Bowl;
3. A Rose Bowl-ABC contract;
4. Contracts between the BCS conferences and Notre Dame and FOX Sports and ESPN/ABC.

How does the BCS standings formula work?

The BCS standings formula consists three components, each weighted equally: the USA Today Coaches Poll, the Harris Interactive College Football Poll and an average of six computer rankings (Anderson & Hester, Richard Billingsley, Colley Matrix, Kenneth Massey, Jeff Sagarin and Peter Wolfe).

How does the Harris Interactive National College Football Poll work?

The Harris Interactive College Football Poll ranks the Top 25 teams each week from late September through the end of the regular season. The Harris panel is comprised of former coaches, student-athletes, administrators and media representatives with a goal of 114 participants. The Division I-A conferences and independent institutions nominate prospective panelists and the Harris Interactive randomly selects the actual panel. Each conference nominates 10 panelists; Notre Dame nominates three and Army and Navy nominate one. The panel is a statistically reliable representation of all 11 Division I-A conferences and independent institutions. Harris Interactive will post the poll results to its website each Sunday. For the final poll in December, individual votes are made public.

Why do some conferences have automatic qualification while others do not?

Six conferences had bowl tie-ins before the BCS was formed. In order for them to participate in the BCS, they had to be guaranteed that the new arrangement would provide them with at least the same access that they had before. The other five conferences were not obligated to give up existing tie-ins.

What about the process for determining which conferences receive automatic BCS bowl bids in the future. How does that process work?

Each conference will be evaluated over a four-year period based on the three elements: the average rank of the highest ranked team, the average rank of all conference teams, and the number of teams in the top 25. Bowls' contractual agreements with host conferences will remain in place. The ACC, Big East, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-10 and SEC met the criteria to earn annual automatic qualification through the 2011 regular season.

How has access been improved for schools from conferences that do not have automatic berths?

From the very beginning, the BCS bowls have been open to all Division I-Aconferences and institutions. Members of those conferences whose champions don't have annual automatic bids to the BCS bowls now have an even greater chance of qualifying for one because:

  • A conference champion will play in a BCS game if it is ranked among the top 12 teams in the final BCS standings. Previously, a team had to finish in the top six to earn an automatic berth.
  • The 2006 expansion of the BCS field from eight to ten teams doubled the number of potential at-large spots from two to four. Any Division I-A program can qualify for at-large consideration if it wins nine or more games and is ranked 14 or higher in the BCS standings.

    What do the TV deals entail?

    FOX Sports has an exclusive four-year agreement covering all broadcasting and sponsorship rights for the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, FedEx Orange Bowl and Allstate Sugar Bowl from 2007 through 2010. FOX also has the same rights for the BCS National Championship Game in 2007, 2008 and 2009. ABC/ESPN has contractual rights to the Rose Bowl Presented by Citi from 2007 through 2010, and also the Citi BCS National Championship Game in 2010. ABC/ESPN has a contract to televise all five games from 2011 through 2014. In addition to television rights, the contract also covers national radio rights; Internet rights; all sponsorship rights, including naming rights, signage opportunities; ancillary programming on FOX and/or FSN; and, jointly with the conferences and the bowls, rights for exploit merchandising opportunities.

    Why doesn't the BCS employ a national playoff for Division I-A football?

    This may sound like semantics, but it is much more. The BCS isn't an entity; it is merely an event that the conferences and Notre Dame manage along with the bowls in order to create a matchup between the No. 1 and No. 2 team in a bowl game. The entity responsible for such things as college sports championships, the college presidents and chancellors that comprise the NCAA, have expressed no support for a playoff. In order for an NCAA Division I-A Football Championship to be established, the NCAA Division I membership must consider such a proposal through its normal legislative process. As of this date, legislation to establish a I-A championship has not been considered by the membership. Through the years there have been several efforts through NCAA channels to address the subject. In 1976, a proposal to establish a Division I-A football championship was introduced on the recommendation of a special committee that had studied the feasibility of a playoff. This proposal, however, was withdrawn and there was no discussion on the Convention floor. A resolution was presented during the 1988 Convention that stated the Division I-A membership did not support the creation of a national championship in the sport of football, which passed by a vote of 98 in favor, 13 opposed and one abstention. In 1994, a blue-ribbon panel was formed to gather information regarding the viability of establishing a Division I-A football championship. The panel forwarded a report to the NCAA Presidents Commission; however, it was decided that the NCAA would not pursue a Division I-A championship. When Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive was asked about a playoff, his response was as follows: "There really is no interest exhibited presently by our presidents or chancellors or many others in having a playoff. "I try to think about it in terms of, 'what is in the best interest of college football?' I think three principles need to be applied. One is that college football is part of higher education, part of the academic mission of our institutions and that's an important piece of the puzzle that's always going to be there. Two, football has a wonderful regular season, an exciting regular season that's maybe the best regular season of all sports. Three, we've had a wonderful 100-year relationship with the bowl system. "So the postseason has to meld those three systems into something that is good for college football."

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